$$ 31 Years After His Wife And Daughters Mysteriously Vanished, Police Received An Anonymous Tip

 

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An evening in August 1985 proved very memorable for one Rhode Island dad, but for all the wrong reasons. Furthermore, it was an event that would change the lives of himself, his wife and his children forever. So, what really happened that night, and where did his family go?

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The marriage of Russell and Elaine Yates had always been tempestuous. For one thing, Russell was prone to infidelity, engaging in various affairs over the years. However, Elaine had stuck with him for nearly 16 years when the couple decided to have children.

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They welcomed their first daughter, Kimberly Ann Yates, into the world in October 1981. Moreover, the couple soon decided that one child wasn’t enough. As a result, they chose to have another, and Kelly Ann Yates arrived a year later.

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However, the Yates’ marriage wasn’t miraculously improved by the onset of parenthood. In fact, it actually made things worse. “That’s when we started to draw our lines on what we’d tolerate in our marriage,” Russell later told the Providence Journal. “I wouldn’t let her threaten me by holding the kids over my head.”

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Consequently, Elaine began to insist that Russell change his ways and finally start to settle down. However, on one fateful night in 1988 Russell struck his wife during an argument. The cause of the argument? Elaine had caught Russell in an affair with yet another woman.

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It was during this fight that Elaine threatened Russell with the worst thing she could think of. She told him that she would “get even” for the abuse and leave him, along with the children. Furthermore, she would do so in the early hours of the morning.

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One night, Russell came home from work to be confronted by a strange situation. “I put the TV on for a while,” he later told the Washington Post. “Normally my wife would hear me, come down and talk to me for a while, see how the night went. After a while, she still didn’t come down.”

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Eventually, Russell went upstairs to check on his family. It was then, on August 27, 1985, that Russell Yates discovered that his wife had disappeared. Moreover, when he checked the children’s beds, he saw that they were empty, too.

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Immediately, he feared that his wife had taken the kids and run away. The next morning, he went to the police and filled out a missing persons report. However, he immediately ran into a problem, one that would stymie his search attempts for over two decades.

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In the immediate aftermath, the local police couldn’t track Elaine Yates down, nor find any trace of the children. As a matter of fact, they didn’t look too hard as they considered that no crime had been committed. This was because the children were still believed to be in the care their mother.

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Nonetheless, Russell wasn’t about to let that stop him from finding his family. Subsequently, he mailed letters to schools all over the state, as well as pediatricians who might have seen his children. In addition, he even hired private detectives to try to track down his wife and kids.

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Realizing that he had come up against a difficult legal barrier, Russell decided to try a different tactic. As a result, he went to court and won full custody of the kids. It was an easy case, since obviously Elaine didn’t actually show up to defend her position.

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However, when these efforts yielded no results, Russell went after Elaine’s family to try to get answers. Consequently, he sued Elaine’s 77-year-old mother in the hope of making her reveal where his errant family was. She either didn’t know or wouldn’t divulge the details, though, leading to her being jailed for contempt at one point.

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Due to the unusual nature of the events, Elaine Yates’ disappearance became well known, especially among federal law enforcement agencies. As a result, Elaine was even featured on the television program America’s Most Wanted, with digitally altered pictures to take into account the intervening years.

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In subsequent years, Russell was able to admit that he’d not been the best husband. He told the Providence Journal, “I was a good dad. A terrible husband, but an excellent father.” Russell also talked to journalists about trips he had taken with his children to the zoo and to Edaville Railroad in Massachusetts.

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More than two decades would pass with Russell still unable to track down his wife and children. However, all that changed one day in December 2016. In fact, thanks to an anonymous tip, Elaine Yates was finally found in Texas. Furthermore, she’d changed her name to Leina Waldberg.

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As a matter of fact, Elaine Yates had built a whole new life for herself under her new moniker, including romantic relationships. Her boyfriend at the time of the arrest, George Sargent, later told NBC that Elaine hadn’t talked much about her marriage. “I didn’t know the circumstances,” Sargent said. “There was a part of her past that I never got a clear picture of.”

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Elaine was subsequently taken back to Rhode Island, where a $50,000 bond was set. Additionally, she was charged with child-snatching, although it remains to be seen what punishment she will face. This is because Russell appears uninterested in pressing the case.

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Russell told the Washington Post, “I just want to see my kids. It’s all about my children. Hopefully they’ll want to get in touch with me. They’re adults now. So that’s up to them.” However, police aren’t allowed to give out the children’s contact information, so Yates has asked them to forward his on.

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Ultimately, the vast majority of such cases don’t offer this kind of closure. In time, perhaps Russell Yates will be able to reconcile with his children. Hopefully they’ll all be able to find a little peace now that they’ve found each other again.

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